Anything can happen in Paris. Approach it with love, adapt to its rhythms. . .as Madeleine must do when she meets a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building on the rue de Rivoli.
|JUNE 24-26 WEP - Romance is the Challenge|
A Stairway in Paris
As she pushed the eight foot doors inward in a building that would now be home, Madeleine saw the small lobby, one side faced with a huge mirror and the other painted in two neutral tones. Opening the door wider, she pulled in the two valises, pushed the door back into place and locked it.
Before her she saw a circular stairway of low-rise stairs, but no elevator. There was nothing else to be done, but to pull them up by herself. My arms will be sore for a week, how could I not check that?
Her apartment, number 303, was leased for a year. That meant four floors up from ground level she had a small piece of Paris with wrought iron windows and a small kitchen. In some older buildings, a lobby like this one would have a small elevator which would hold two people or four suitcases, but not this one.
She started up the stairs before she heard someone coming down. She had one suitcase by the handle and the other she pulled behind. I can't stop now, I'll never make it if I do. She kept going. The footsteps came closer until a dark-haired young man came around the curve of a turn in the stairway. She glanced up surprised, hoping he would stand aside and let her pass.
"Excusez-moi . . ." he said, watching the petite young woman struggle with the two valises by herself.
"Pardon, excuse-moi, Monsieur, these cases are as heavy as they look, please let me pass."
Stunned for a moment, he let her go past before he found his voice.
"Oui, but may I assist with your valise?"
He repeated in part English, part French and pointed to her suitcase.
"Oh. Oui, merci."
Gaston carried the heavier valise and followed behind. Madeleine's arms and shoulders were starting to feel the strain when she finally arrived on the third level. I should have brought the suitcases one at a time, but it's my art tools, my work.
"This valise is heavy, too heavy for a mademoiselle."
"Perhaps, but what else can a 'poor' mademoiselle do but try?"
"Ah, you put me in place? I didn't mean it that way."
She grinned and offered a handshake, stopping halfway. "Non, certainly not. I'm Madeleine Lafitte. I appreciate the wit and your help with these bags. It's art equipment."
|Bistrot Marguerite Napkin, by DG Hudson|
He took her offered hand in his, but only held it, he didn't kiss it. "I am Gaston Chambord, pleased to meet you. I study art too, when I'm not working at the Bistro Marguerite*. It's not far from here."
He let go of her hand reluctantly. "I live down at the far end, number 309. We're neighbors."
"I was lucky to meet you on the stairs, thank you again." She walked to the door to see him out.
"You are welcome, Madeleine. Next time, maybe we can have coffee and talk. Au revoir."
"Oui, that would be nice. Au revoir!" I wonder why he didn't kiss my hand? I thought that always happened. . .
After Gaston left, she unpacked her tea kettle and made hot tea. She would have to look for a café in a few hours. But she couldn't stop thinking about this man she had met on the stairway. He had helped save her from a dislocated shoulder. A bit of a hero. What was the name of the place where he said he worked?
Later, she found the Bistro Marguerite as she took a walk at dusk for that purpose. Near the Hotel de Ville, this café glowed warmly on the street corner near the Seine River. She didn't see Gaston among the staff at the front, so she sat in the outside area where you could look about the evening streets. As she sat wondering if she'd be able to decipher the menu, one of the other waiters came to her table.
|Bistrot Marguerite, Paris, by DG Hudson|
It was not Gaston, but another waiter who spoke English well enough to help with her order. He suggested either Cod cooked the French way or Grilled Salmon. She ordered grilled herbed salmon with slivered green beans and eyed the outside décor while she waited. Her attention wandered to the Seine and the streets beside the bistro. Several couples walked by, enjoying the night and being in Paris. They looked in to see what people were eating, she looked out to see if they were tourists or locals. As if she could tell.
She had a small book to read while she sipped her wine and water. As the waiter brought her order, she looked up and saw a friendly smile.
"Madeleine, you found the Bistro Marguerite! My friend asked me to attend the young mademoiselle's order, so I help him out of course and then I see it is you. The food here is tres bon."
"This smells wonderful. I hoped you were working so I could thank you again for helping me with my luggage."
"Luggage? Ah, the valise. No problem. Coffee? Maybe a dessert, au gratis?"
"Merci, with cream, please."
"I'm glad you came by. I'd like to walk back with you, but I'm still working."
"Are you finished soon?"
"Oui, in twenty minutes."
"I could wait, I might get lost."
"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."
The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.
END of Part I, A Stairway in Paris.
*Link to 'Paris Posts' tab, on Bistros and Sidewalk cafés, including 'Bistro Marguerite'.
NOTE: It's not a good idea to address a waiter in France as garçon. It's considered a rude or derogatory expression. Address the waiter as monsieur.
Do you take the stairs often? Have you ever had to lug your own heavy suitcases up the stairs? Are you a fan of the genre romantic story? How about a romantic tragedy?
Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond. PS - Writing romance is a stretch for me, so feedback is welcome. This is a side story of a work-in-progress; there will be more in a future WEP.
Update - correction June 30th, thanks to ABFTS.
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